The State of Foodservice Consulting

Over the last eight to nine months, we’ve all missed certain things. Some of us may have had to cancel trips or, even worse, weddings or family gatherings. Many of us have had to put our love of sports on hold, and then when it’s returned, it’s just not quite the same. But a vast majority of us have missed one important thing, going to restaurants.

As stated in a report from Babbage Pulse that was summarized in a recent white paper from FCSI The Americas titled The Future of Foodservice Design in a Post-COVID-19 Environment, the number one thing Americans are most interested in doing once it’s safe to do is visiting a restaurant.

There are a few things to unpack from this statement. From our standpoint, it’s critical to look at the most obvious, which is the notion of “once it’s safe to do so.” There is still a lot of uncertainty as to what safe means and what it will look like in the future. Regardless, FCSI reports that 69 percent of respondents in a recent survey believe COVID-19 will fundamentally change how people eat and drink in the future, even once things are deemed as “safe.”

This, of course, means consultants and designers are the front-line architects, both literally and figuratively, of how restaurants and the foodservice industry will look in the future. One of the easiest ways to keep tabs on what’s happening is to check in with those who are developing what the future will look like in terms of trends, designs, and builds.

Here at Middleby Learn, we did just that when we conducted a brief survey. Coupled with some of the results from the FCSI report, here’s what we learned.

Consultants Are Still Busy

A majority of the respondents to the FCSI survey said they are still busy and expect to remain busy. Even though some aspects of the foodservice industry are slowing, 40 percent of foodservice consultants stated the number of proposals they’ve submitted have actually increased, and nearly 75 percent state they’re responding to one to three per week. The market segments where consultants most expect to see excellent growth are ghost kitchens, hospitals and assisted living centers, QSRs, grocery and retail, and in the fast casual restaurant segment.

Social Distancing Is Top Of Mind

As you’d expect, the coronavirus is dictating a lot of new trends in the foodservice industry. Today’s consultants are being asked to not only think outside the box, but also to design with COVID-19 in mind. This means placing emphasis on social distancing and other best practices that can help prevent the spread of the virus.

Pickup And Delivery Are Pacing The Industry

Every single respondent in our recent consultant survey told us they’ve seen a rise in pickup and delivery requests. From touch-less food pickup solutions that can reduce the fears of takeout to an increase in delivery trends, consultants need to be up on how to make this type of service quick, risk-free, and profitable. To underscore this point, one-quarter of all consultants have been asked to take no-contact foodservice as a consideration.

There’s Been A Turn To Automation

Of all responses, 25 percent of consultants listed requests for automated culinary solutions. There’s been a huge turn toward innovations that can help maximize labor, especially in operations like ghost kitchens, and we don’t expect to see this changing any time soon.

State of Foodservice Consultants


Have you seen an uptick in requests for ghost kitchen implementation? If you have, you might want to experience them first hand.

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Topics: Foodservice Industry Trends